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Letter from the Superintendent

posted Jul 12, 2016, 9:09 AM by Kari Osborne   [ updated Jul 12, 2016, 9:09 AM by CEL Marketing PR Design ]

Leadership That Affects Student Achievement

July 10, 2016

Dear Princeton Community,

Certainly everyone knows how important a teacher is, in a classroom.  Everyone knows that teachers make the biggest difference in a child’s learning and development while they are in school.  

Seldom do people think about the impact of the principal or other administrators on student learning and development.  They also have a measurable impact upon student achievement.  Robert Marzano and Timothy Waters found there are administrative responsibilities that impact student achievement:  collaborative goal setting, establishing non-negotiable goals for achievement and instruction, creating board alignment with and in support of district goals, monitoring achievement and instruction goals, allocating resources to support the goals of achievement and instruction.

How are these contributions done in Princeton Public Schools?

Collaborative Goal Setting

Each fall, through a program called Q Comp Program (or Alternative Teacher Pay for Performance System), teachers and administrators go through a process of goal setting for student achievement.  The state gives us guidelines for this goal setting, as well as the assessments which are allowed.  The MCAs (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments) are the assessments that are allowed.  

Goals are established at each level:  individual classrooms, each Professional Learning Community, each school, and the district.  We have goals in reading and mathematics.

It is the administrators’ contributions to make this goal setting process happen well and according to state requirements.

Establishing Non-Negotiable Goals for Achievement and Instruction

This responsibility is two pronged.  

First, the achievement goal is met by students learning the state academic standards.  Every content area has learning targets that are provided by the state of Minnesota.  Unlike when our students’ parents and grandparents were in school, teachers do not teach a textbook from cover to cover.  Instead, they use textbooks and other resources to teach the standards.  It is nonnegotiable; the standards must be taught.

Second, there needs to be an instructional framework. We have selected one that has a strong evidence base.  Here it is:

Creating Board Alignment with and Support of District Goals

The Board established alignment with our non-negotiables in the spring of 2013, with their resolution supporting the Marzano framework.  This was a courageous action, as we were just beginning our work to focus upon and improve student achievement.

The other way that our Board took responsibility was in their support of our district goals through our strategic plan.  That five year plan was approved last spring.

Both of these actions gave the district the challenge to create clarity of expectations to improve student achievement by implementing state standards and adopting the instructional map.

Monitoring Achievement and Instruction Goals

Another contribution that administrators have during the school year is monitoring achievement and instruction goals.  That is, administrators are in classrooms, observing, attending Professional Learning Communities, looking at data related to the goals, and meeting with others to discuss how to improve.  

The administrators’ contributions in these areas are vital to our students’ success.

Allocating Resources to Support the Goals of Achievement and Instruction

This is a very important responsibility that is perhaps one of the most important of all.  The Board and Administrators need to allocate resources to support the goals of achievement and instruction.  What are resources?  Making decisions in distributing funds, staff, and time are all factors into this obligation.  

In closing, when all of these above contributions are in place, and when teachers are meeting the achievement and instruction goals, the district becomes high functioning.  This is what is happening at Princeton, for our students.


Julia Espe

Reference:  District Leadership That Works: Striking the Right Balance by Robert J. Marzano and Timothy Waters, 2009, Solution Tree Press.